One of the reasons I started writing this blog is that simple, “normal” parenting tasks – ones that other people seem to complete with relative ease – completely overwhelm me. They floor me. I gotta have an outlet for this confusion, lest I finally determine that I am, in fact, fatally maladjusted and ill-equipped for life, and give up entirely.
For example: extracurricular activities. I don’t get those. I mean, I “get” them: it’s the stuff kids do outside of school.
But I don’t get them – like, how to DO THEM.
One, maybe. Extracurricular Activity. Not plural. No plural around here.
Each kid gets one.
Yeah, I know. Bad mother.
But you gotta understand the situation here. I am genuinely impressed with my parenting skills when each one of my kids is involved in a single extracurricular activity. Except Georgia. Georgia gets boob. That’s her activity.
And I’m not kidding. I feel like an over-achieving, June-Cleaver-emulating, Martha-Stewart-weeps-in-the-corner-when-she-sees-me-coming bad ass when I get Ava to softball practice. And if I’m on time? Whoa. Hold up. Somebody’s on FIRE.
I think about this sometimes when I see other people’s kids doing freaking everything. Tennis lessons, Girl Scouts, violin lessons, French lessons, karate, earth-appreciation camp, junior democrat camp, social justice grammar school league (okay I made those last two up). And I don’t get it. Do their parents have chauffeurs? Do they have house boys (I have no idea what that is, but I think I want one.). Have they discovered 5 additional hours in the day, perhaps hiding under the armoire? Are they self-employed? Are they independently wealthy? Is there something wrong with me? (well, yes, Janelle. We’ve been over that. Now move along).
I mean COME ON I can hardly get my kids to SCHOOL each day, let alone optional character-building activities.
I think it’s a bit unreasonable to set those kind of expectations.
I mean pretty much the only reason my kids make it to school every day is because I’ll get arrested if I don’t take them and I really need them to leave the premises for awhile, so I can gather my strength to face the upcoming after-school extracurricular. I can’t believe I just said that out loud.
These things sound okay on paper. Like T-ball for example. Sounds innocuous, right?. Little kids, uniforms, balls, dirt, tees. One practice on Thursdays. One game on Fridays. Yeah, alright. I’m in. It’ll be fun.
Oh NO it won’t.
They didn’t tell you that the practice is at 4pm on Thursdays, so unless you’re a stay-at-home-mom, it’s a virtual act of God to get a kid moved from school to the park at 4pm on a Thursday – which means you’ll spend every Wednesday (when it occurs to you with a pang of sorrow that tomorrow is Thursday and thus T-ball practice) calling grandparents and distant relatives and old friends who hate you, begging them to help. Games at 6pm on Fridays? Alright. Manageable. But it isn’t just a game. It’s a game that requires particular clothing, meaning you will first have to locate this clothing (“Rocket WHY are your baseball socks tied to the dog kennel in the neighbor’s yard?”) and quite possibly wash that clothing (which of course is optional. But locating them? Not optional.). And then there’s the gear. (“Where the F is the mit?”) AGAIN. And of course we’re trying to eat food before the game so nobody starves, in addition to trying to dress Rocket in a baseball uniform that doesn’t exist (while he’s rolling on the floor in hysterics after trying to lick his sister, who is now screaming because her privacy’s been violated and she has homework and doesn’t want to go the game at all and NOBODY EVER CARES ABOUT HER EVENTS!) and it’s cold on the field so dress appropriately (but “I HATE UNDERSHIRTS MAMA!”) and the baby went to the bathroom for the 3rd time today, right now, so I’m yelling at Mac to handle it but he’s making food and I’m wrestling kids. And everybody’s reeling and WHY? Why is my life sucking so badly at 5:45pm on a Friday?
Because of the damn extracurricular activity.
I know what you’re thinking. Plan better, Janelle. Make a schedule. Organize your life. Use a calendar for goodness sake. Act like a grown-up.
But the problem is, I can’t do that either.
I put things in my Blackberry calendar then never look at it again. Or I write things on the family calendar then fail to realize that today is the day indicated on the calendar. Yes, I do these things. This is me.
Hello. My name is Janelle and I am inept.
We don’t plan. We avert disaster.
Maybe my kids will resent me one day because they only got to do one thing at a time. And that’s okay. I do what I can. And once they have their own kids, suddenly facing their own limitations, they’ll realize with perfect clarity that I did the best I could, with the tools I had at the time.
Or didn’t have. As the case may be.